Asset Declration: Dogara, Buhari meet midnight over Saraki’s trial
There were indications that President Muhammadu Buhari and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, met on Monday night over the ongoing prosecution of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, for alleged false asset declaration.
The meeting said to have been held late in the night.
Our correspondent learnt that Dogara had reportedly “secured a booking” to meet with Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa.
A senior official of the House told The PUNCH that the meeting was not an open affair and that nobody could gauge the mood of the President.
The official said, “I am aware that he (speaker) secured a booking to see the President this night. But, this will not be an open meeting just yet. I think he wants to first see Mr. President and inform him about the resolution of the House.
“The President’s mood will determine whether he will go on to mediate in the matter to find a political solution as advised by the House.”
The House had in a resolution passed on Wednesday, last week, asked Dogara to intervene in Saraki’s case by meeting with Buhari and the Senate President, who is also the Chairman of the National Assembly, with a view to finding a political solution to the matter.
The move by the House came soon after the Code of Conduct Bureau arraigned the Senate President before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged false asset declaration.
The House had argued that a political solution could save the country the heat generated in the polity by Saraki’s trial at the CCT.
It also claimed that a matter affecting the National Assembly could indirectly be a threat to democracy.
Part of the resolution reads, “The House mandates the leadership of the House to meet with the President with a view to politically resolving all outstanding issues relating to National Assembly in the interest of Nigerians.
“Mandate the speaker to intervene in the present issues and challenges being faced by the Chairman of the National Assembly (Saraki) with a view to finding a political solution and protecting the institution of the National Assembly as a whole for the interest of our democracy.”
When contacted for comments, the Chairman, House Ad hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Sani Zoro, said he could not confirm whether there would be a meeting between Buhari and Dogara.
Zoro claimed to have made efforts to reach the speaker but could not because of a meeting of the leadership of the House being held as of 4.44pm when he spoke with The PUNCH.
However, he admitted that Dogara was “eminently placed” to mediate in the issue since his position had not been “called to question by any authority as we speak.”
He added, “While I cannot confirm immediately whether there will be a meeting tonight between Mr. President and the Speaker, I will quickly say that the speaker has been involved in several reconciliation meetings within the party (All Progressives Congress) and other levels.
“It was not by mistake that the House mandated him to intervene in the current issue affecting the Senate President.
“He has been holding several reconciliation meetings.”
But, another member of Zoro’s committee confided in The PUNCH that he was aware that Dogara planned to meet with Buhari between Monday (yesterday) and Wednesday (tomorrow) over Saraki’s case.
The source said two other meetings, one with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, and the other with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, would precede a meeting with Buhari on Wednesday.
“He will likely meet with the VP and the SGF on Tuesday (today) before another leg of meeting with Buhari on Wednesday,” the source stated.
Buhari had said that his relationship with Saraki would be determined by the outcome of his trial by the CCT.
However, the two top officials of the government were photographed on Thursday last week at an event marking the 55th Independence anniversary of the country as they laughed and bantered.
The photograph was said to be intended to portray the two as officials who had no scores to settle.
Buhari and Saraki are said not to have held any official meeting to discuss matters of state since the latter emerged as the President of the 8th Senate on June 9 against the preferred choice of the APC, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
The current peace move being spearheaded by Dogara is coming amid the screening of Buhari’s ministerial nominees by the Senate, beginning anytime from Tuesday (today).
Saraki had on Wednesday last week confirmed the receipt of the letter containing the names of the nominees but noted that the letter would be opened at plenary on Tuesday.
With Saraki in charge of affairs, there are concerns in some quarters that the Senate President may seize the opportunity to take his pound of flesh by influencing senators to reject a number of the nominees.